Q&A: being drunk in a pub and 'airside' venues

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Drunk offence: a 19th century act remains relevant
Drunk offence: a 19th century act remains relevant
This week's legal Q&A take a look at if someone can be prosecuted for being drunk in a pub and what the rules around 'airside' licensed premises are.

Can one be prosecuted for being drunk in a pub?

Q:​ I have been told that if someone gets drunk in a pub, then they can be prosecuted for this. Is this really true?

A: Under the wording of the Licensing Act 1872, it is still an offence to not only be drunk on licensed premises, but also, believe it or not, to be drunk in charge of a carriage, firearm, horse, sheep, pig or cow.

I have to say that I am not aware of any prosecutions under this act for a good many decades.

Of more relevance is that, as a customer, it is illegal to purchase alcohol on behalf of somebody who is drunk, or fail to leave licensed premises when asked to do so, either by a police constable or somebody who works at the premises in a capacity where they have authority to ask you to leave. Again, that being said, I am not personally aware of any such prosecutions taking place.

Do ‘airside’ licensed premises require a premises licence?

Q:​ I have read recently about holidaymakers having too much to drink before they get on aeroplanes. Are the pubs that you find after you have gone through passport control and security not licensed so that the police can’t take action if people are getting drunk?

A: The Licensing Act 2003 provides a specific exemption for any licensed premises that are ‘airside’ from requiring a premises licence. Therefore, not only the pubs and restaurants, but also the duty-free shops.

However, the Government has, in its official response to the report on the Licensing Act 2003 by the House of Lords select committee, given a commitment to consult upon, among other things, the question of whether such premises should be licensed under the Licensing Act 2003, as part of its call for evidence on a new aviation strategy for the United Kingdom.

Related topics: Licensing law

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